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18 Hilarious Modes of Transport Science Gave Up On Too Soon

Last week the world was gripped by the story of Balloon Boy, a small child trapped in a balloon as it sailed over the landscape below. To make a stupid story short, it turns out the kid wasn’t in the balloon, was instead hiding in the attic the whole time and has a father who is now at risk of being pelted with fruit every time he steps outdoors.

However the parts of that story concerning idiots were uninteresting to me, given my heavy exposure to idiots on the Internet already. What sparked my imagination was the idea of a madman working on antiquated methods of transportation in his backyard and getting his children to test them, like they were monkeys or something.

Truthfully, I was amazed I hadn't thought of it myself. Children share many of the same characteristics of monkeys, in that they’re trainable, lightweight and love bananas. However, unlike monkeys, few people actually care about the welfare of children, making them ideally suited for such dangerous work. I have to applaud the boy's father's genius. Sending children into the sky in wacky Victorian modes of transport would make for incredible TV. Hell, we just watched it make for incredible TV. Someone get on this.

Because no one ever "gets on something" when I ask them to, I decided to do a bit of research on this myself. Below are 18 of the most preposterous methods of transport I could find. It turns out that many of these are hilarious even independent of their ability to endanger children.

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elephant-balloon

The downside with conventional hot air balloons is that you’re basically at the mercy of the winds when it comes to where you’re going to go. Here that problem has been solved by harnessing the predictable forces of an angry elephant.

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bigwheel

A Tricycle built for nine. Perfect for taking your entire family on a trip to the park or down to the Thunderdrome to fight for your meal. I seriously hope they have a parking brake on this thing, because a lot of people are going to lose a lot of hit points if it starts rolling.

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water-wheels

“English women are frigid ice queens. I bet American women will put out for my genius. Here I come, America.”

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water-ball

Wow. This businessman looks determined. “There is no way some GODDAMNED OCEAN is going to keep me from winning that Jenkins account.”

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plane-train

Propeller powered monorail. I don’t know enough about aerodynamics or mechanical engineering to know whether this is a good idea or not, but I do know that these would make those railroad-crossing safety videos 10 times funnier.

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eggbeater

It’s hard to tell when it’s not in motion, but those three wings coming out each side of this lunatic device are actually meant to rotate in the manner of an egg beater. If built, this would have been the only known aircraft powered by the embarrassment of its occupants.

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enveloping-unicycle

“With my new Enveloping Unicycle, I can travel twice as fast and in three times the style. If only I had some place to go.

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fairey_autodyne

Most of us will be familiar with autogyro contraptions from that wild-eyed, snake throwing motherfucker from The Road Warrior. But few know that these were actual things that were actually built by real grown up people who wore ties and hats and everything.

This one is called the Fairey Rotodyne, and isn’t technically an autogyro. It’s actually a gyroplane – the difference being that the top rotors are themselves propelled. In this case, by fucking jet motors mounted in the rotor tips. There's a video of it flying here. The project was eventually canceled, and the Rotodyne destroyed, doomed for being too beautiful to exist in a world such as ours.

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mysterymachine

This is a three man, four-wheeled, pedal-powered cycle. It was featured heavily in a series of novellas from around the turn of the century about a group of teenagers and their dog who went around solving mysteries.

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monocycle

“Hey! Jebeidiah!”

“Yes, Samuel?”

“Fuck you!” –zooms off-

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horse-monocycle

“I was wrong. American women are frigid, too. Well let’s see if Canadian women like the cut of my jib.”

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horsey

“Gracious. I can see why ladyfolk like riding these so much.”

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airship

An illustration of Robur’s airship from Jules Verne’s famous series of novels about the air pirate. Robur used it to conduct raids on the industrial nations of the world, but after analyzing its design, modern engineers agree it could also be used to save your game or reform your party.

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prisonbike

Similar to the Mystery Machine above, this was a tricycle designed for police officers to be able to transport an Irishman to jail in great haste. For balance issues, it was recommended the rearmost passenger have an enormous mustache.

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hayride

I honestly have no idea. Someone here’s clearly misinterpreted a textbook figure on the density of hay.

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italian-sulky

Wow. Lots going on here. One, it turns out sulky isn’t a made up a word, and is simply a name for a two wheel carriage that my city-boy ears never learned. Two, it’s made by an Italian, so you know it’s reliable. Three, 116 miles per hour. Fuck you common sense, I want one of these, and I want it yesterday.

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couples-helicopter

“Gentle sirs, with this device, I guarantee that you shall not find a more civilized way to convey your lady at high speeds into a marsh and Expire.”

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friends

“Can you believe these Canadian women, Reginald? I can’t believe I came all the way here for these bitches.”

“That is too bad, Victor.”

“I suppose something good has come of it though.”

“You mean how you’ve perfected your Two Person Crotchpiston Drive?”

“No, Reginald. I mean how I’ve made a friend.”

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Chris Bucholz

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